It is not uncommon for a mom to be put on bed rest at some point during their pregnancy. Nearly one in five women in the U.S. will be asked to kick up and relax for a period that can last from a few days to a number of month. Being ordered to stay off your feet is a doctor’s way of slowing down an active mom when he thinks that the pregnancy is in danger.
Your doctor/OB may recommend a period of bed rest at any point during pregnancy if:
- You have high blood pressure
- You’re bleeding or having problems with the placenta
- You have an incompetent cervix — a condition in which the cervix is likely to open (dilate) prematurely
- Your water has broken prematurely
- You’re having contractions or other signs or symptoms of preterm labor
- You’re carrying twins or other multiples
The term ‘bed rest’ is vague because there are, in fact, many stages of bed rest and different rules for each stage.
Some moms are free to move about the house, as long as you avoid lifting children and doing heavy housework. Depending on the demands of your job, you may even be able to continue working.
In other cases, the guidelines are stricter. You may need to remain in a sitting or reclining position most of the time, only getting up to use the toilet or shower. You may not be allowed to work or do even light household chores until the baby is born.
If your health care provider prescribes total bed rest, you may need to lie on your side at all times — including when you eat. Personal hygiene may be limited to sponge baths and a bed pan.
Bed rest is usually done at home. In a few cases, however, bed rest requires hospitalization.
Researchers are still trying to determine the full benefits of bed rest. What they do know is that it decreases pressure on the cervix, which may help stop preterm contractions or vaginal bleeding. Bed rest also increases blood flow to the placenta, which can boost your baby’s growth.
Women who were previously active find bed rest boring and depressing. Darline Turner-Lee, a nationally certified physician assistant, an American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Specialist® and certified perinatal fitness instructor developed a video designed to take women through a series of gentle yet effective movements .
The benefits are said to be maintenance of muscle tone and physical strength, improved circulation, reduction in the risk of leg clots leading to strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms, increased endurance during labor,more effective pushes during delivery and decreased recovery time postpartum.
Having to stay in one spot for days, weeks or months can set an expectant mom on the road to insanity. Here are a few ideas of things to keep you occupied while sitting in bed 24 hours a day.
- start a journal chronicling your pregnancy – and your bed rest
- start a family tree that you can share with your child someday
- firm up your baby-name choices; use books and websites for ideas
- organize photo albums
- read anything – newspapers, magazines, classic novels, the latest bestsellers, compilations of fiction or poetry; you could even revisit some of your favorite childhood stories or try out some books from the library for your little one
- watch rented videos/DVDs or taped TV shows
- answer letters or correspondence
- write thank-you cards if you’ve already had a baby shower; if not, start addressing the envelopes to people (friends and family) whom you know will probably give gifts
- build an email and phone list of people to call when the baby comes, if you haven’t already done so
- start a calendar of important dates to remember (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
*Always check with your doctor before starting any fitness programs while on bed rest*